UNITED STATES President Barack Obama recently concluded the South African leg of his select African countries tour.
Cross-Boarder Chronicles with Sukoluhle Nyathi
Obama mania which gripped us over the weekend was certainly exported to Tanzania which was the next country on the itinerary.
There are those who are totally mesmerised by Obama. Then there are those who hate him with equal measure.
Love him or hate him, he is a born orator. He is eloquent. I first encountered him on my TV screen in February 2007 when he announced his intention to run for the presidency of the US.
My interest in American politics was piqued by this black presidential candidate with an impressive CV.
I remember my jubilation when he won and became the 44th President of the US.
What made his ascension special was that a black man was now the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
I watched in awe with many others, the televised coverage of his inauguration in 2009.
As he stood on that podium with his “yes, we can” rhetoric, he raised a lot of expectations in the hearts of many.
However, six years later there are mixed feelings about this man who once roused resounding support. There are some disillusioned African-American nationals who feel he hasn’t done enough for them. However, let’s be reminded that African-Americans constitute less than 13% of the US population.
They are one of the minority groups in the US, so with this in mind, it would have been highly inappropriate for Obama to start transmitting sounds of blackness into the White House.
As President, he represents the majority who are not black. So moving beyond the US you have Africans with their high expectations of him pursuing an African agenda by virtue of being black and having a Kenyan father.
This to me is highly misplaced considering he is the President of America not any African country. Furthermore, the irony is that Africans are always bemoaning that the West tries to impose their agenda on them, so I don’t know how this changes when you have a black man at the helm.
Moreover, whose agenda is he pushing? Sceptics and critics alike are questioning his motives for pursuing an African agenda. They claim the US is only looking south because of the dominance of Chinese investment on the continent. Africa is not and should not be the exclusive domain for any one country with investment motives.
However, Africa should be dictating the terms on which they want that investment to take place.
No country, whether America or China, should dictate the agenda.
The question really that should be asked is, what is the African agenda?
For once I would compare Africa to a woman being courted by rich powerful men.
We all know that these men are drawn to her resources that lie in her generous bosom. Africa is an attractive bountiful woman whose generous hips spanning from west to east, offer a myriad of resources.
Her sinewy length from the north to the south offers boundless opportunities.
These hungry suitors would love to delve deep into her recesses and mine her for all she’s worth.
Nevertheless, Africa has the power to decide on what terms that engagement is going to take place. She should not be blown over by charming words and polished exteriors.
If she is going to jump into bed with the US, it should be on her terms and result in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Of course Africa is not a country as Rick Ross, implied and it is made up of 54 individual countries. Each country will obviously dictate their own agenda.
Obama has, however, promised to round up African leaders for a special summit to discuss the African agenda.
I don’t know if this invitation will be extended to all or a select few.
President Uhuru Kenyatta might just be omitted pending the outcome of his legal wrangles with the International Criminal Court.
One also wonders if Zimbabwe will be on the list of invited guests considering she got several mentions in Obama’s many speeches.
Zimbabwe as you know is like that naughty child in class always reprimanded for bad behaviour and punished with sanctions.
We have failed dismally when it comes to democracy, transparency and protection of human rights.
However, given a chance, we can still rewrite and pass those exams with distinctions.
It’s anybody’s guess who our next head of State will be when that summit takes place, but one thing for sure we’d also like to sit at that table and not under it.
We might be the bad kid on the block, but we are still very much a part of that African agenda.
Sukoluhle Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist